Friday, May 12, 2006

Three-Dragon Ante

So my regular Thursday night gaming crew got together last night. Usually we play D&D 3.5, an Eberron campaign, but because of absences instead we decided on doing traditional games. And we wanted something relatively easy because our brains hurt, so we opened up Rob Heinsoo's new game, published by WotC - Three-Dragon Ante.

And it was real good. A straightforward game that links the D&D multicolored dragons with a playable card game. Each color of dragon is a suit, numbered 1-12. Each dragon has a special power, but that power only activates if its card number is equal to or lower than the previously played card. You ante in at the start of of a three round "gambit", and the player with the highest total in their "flight" of three cards at the end of the gambit wins the pot.

The interesting thing is that this mechanic pulls the player in two directions at the same time, creating a nice tension. You want to play high cards so you take the pot, but if you play high cards, you don't get to use your cards' powers, which range from taking money back from the pot to forcing other players to give you cards or chips. So you have to weigh the option of long-term versus short term gains. Plus the fact that you have a limited resource in your card hand, which does not replentish at the same rate as you lay down cards. As a result, you often have to buy additional cards (paying the pot), which makes the pot even larger.

Add to this special mortal cards, each card a special power, and unique cards like Bahumat and Tiamat, and you have a fast, involved, engaging game. Its a perfect "wait for the D&D game to start" kind of game, and stands alone as well. Check it out.

More later,